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Whistleblower reveals Highland's flagship Raigmore Hospital hit by bedlinen and gown shortage

By Neil MacPhail

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Raigmore Hospital.
Raigmore Hospital.

NHS Highland has admitted that Raigmore Hospital has been dealing with shortages in both bed linen and patients' gowns.

The Inverness Courier was contacted by a whistleblower listing a catalogue of grievances including bullying by management, at the in-house laundry at Raigmore which also serves hospitals in Wick, Skye and Fort William, .

It was claimed that the situation was so bad that there was an occasion when the X-ray department "had to shut down" through a lack of gowns - a situation denied by NHS Highland.

In response to a request for comment on the whistleblower's claims, an NHS spokesperson said: "We want to stress that this (shortage of gowns) had no impact on service delivery."

The whistleblower told the Inverness Courier they felt compelled to get in touch because the situation was getting so bad, adding that last week there was a union meeting over the issue.

It was alleged that the shortages of linen and gowns was so dire that some ward staff were grabbing laundry, destined for different wards, in the corridors as it was being delivered in trollies - and the main cause of the shortage was not enough being ordered.

It was claimed too that when alarms went off on the industrial washing machines indicating the disinfecting bleach being added to the wash was getting low, it was on occasion replaced with water to stop the alarm, presenting a potential for infection.

"The problems at the laundry have been going on for too long now," said the whistleblower, adding that some of the 13 workers were experiencing bullying.

"We are about five staff short and are working so hard and are so tired. It seems to be all about cost-cutting. We threatened to walk out because of the conditions."

NHS Highland's statement said in full: "We can confirm that we experienced a shortage of linen in Raigmore Hospital recently however this was for a short period of time and the issue has been resolved. We have reviewed our processes to ensure that this does not happen again.

"We also had a shortage of gowns across the hospital and we are looking into this issue to understand what happened and how we can prevent it from happening again.

"We want to stress that this had no impact on service delivery. All of our wards across all hospital sites, as well as our social care settings, follow strict infection control measures at all times."

The statement continued: "We have clear protocols in place in the event that alarms are activated in the laundry area. We are investigating these claims as a matter of urgency and will discuss our health and safety measures directly with colleagues working in the laundry.

"We are sorry to hear that some of our staff feel they are being treated unfairly.

"We take these claims extremely seriously and we would encourage any colleagues who feel they are being treated this way, or anyone who has witnessed inappropriate behaviour towards staff, to get in touch with us directly so we can discuss the case in more detail.

"We have a number of ways colleagues can get in touch regarding inappropriate behaviour, including staffside representatives, a senior member of staff or our independent ‘Speak Up; Guardian Service who provide information and emotional support in a strictly confidential, non-judgmental manner.

"They can be accessed 24/7 via 0333 577 5955 or by email at contact@theguardianservice.co.uk

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